It was a sleepy Tuesday night in early February 2011. The Eden Prairie Community Center might have been, at best, at a third of its capacity. Hype? There was none.
Eden Prairie and Hermantown were each ranked No. 2 in their respective classes when they met in a game that was unforgettable because of its finish.
Kyle Rau scored a most improbable goal with five seconds left in overtime, whipping a shot from the the corner — and at about the goal line — to lift the host Eagles past the Hawks. Rau, a future Mr. Hockey award winner, Golden Gophers star and NHLer who's currently a Minnesota Wild farmhand, would go on to score more renowned overtime goals that season: one in the Class 2A, Section 6 final and another in the 2012 state championship (in triple overtime, no less) that season, but his heroics against Hermantown sit atop the highlight reel of what has become a budding rivalry.
The teams played outdoors in Hermantown the previous season as part of Hockey Day Minnesota, with Rau registering a hat trick in a 4-3 Eagles' victory. They didn’t play after 2011-12 until two seasons ago, when they joined Benilde-St. Margaret’s and Brainerd as part of the North-South Classic. Garrett Smith, son of Eden Prairie coach Lee Smith, scored in overtime to lift the Eagles past the Hawks 5-4 in 2017. Last year Hermantown won 5-3, getting an empty-net goal from Darian Gotz with eight seconds left to secure victory.
With all that behind them, etched in Minnesota hockey history, and expecting more of the same ahead, we've picked this matchup for our Top Game of the Week.
Both teams have sat at or near the top of their respective classes for much of the last decade, and this season is no exception. Eden Prairie is ranked No. 1 in the Class 2A state coaches' poll from Nov. 27, and Hermantown is No. 2 in Class 1A.
Hermantown (2-0-0, 0-0-0) has a Kyle Rau-type player in Minnesota Duluth commit Blake Biondi, a senior who is considered one of the early Mr. Hockey frontrunners after scoring 34 goals and adding 29 assists to rank eighth among the state’s returning scorers.